Dock of the Bay

Vol. 8, No. 25
June 22-28, 2000
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Granted: Wishes of Fishes

Six-year-old Dakota Blake, of Pasadena, went fishing for the very first time last Saturday, thanks to the first Grant-a-Fish Day. Within minutes after Captain John Deering docked the Shady Lady off Hackett Point, just south of the Bay Bridge, Dakota got what he had come for, a nice fat croaker. His smile stretched from ear to ear as he posed for a picture with his catch.

The long morning of fishing, sponsored by Grant-a-Wish / The Children’s Promise Foundation and, took more than 40 children with life-threatening illnesses, along with their families, onto the Bay in search of spot, croaker and perch. Boats, tackle, gear and admission to the park were all donated by on-line members of

The weather was hot, sunny, breezy and perfect for fishing as more than 30 charter boats left Sandy Point State Park. The boats went off in different directions, each seeking the best fishing spot of the day. The plan was for the captains to radio to let one another know where the fish were biting. Hackett Point turned out to be a hot spot, and boats converged in search of fish.

And fish they did. Dakota caught more than a dozen fish while on board the Shady Lady. Sister Stevie and brother Kyle fished nearby with mother Nancy. “We are always together,” said Stephen Blake, Dakota’s father. “If one of us is sick, we’re all sick.”

Grant-a-Wish organizes all its activities for families because, says program director Kathie Figallo, “it’s important to include the siblings when working with these children.”

Competition was fierce among the Blake family to see who would catch the largest fish.

But the catch of the day belonged to Capt. Deering, who reeled in a 25-pound stingray. The skate provided much excitement as Deering struggled for 10 minutes — with everyone on the Shady Lady trying to stay out of his way. After the skate was released, the fun came in reliving the story to boats that passed by.

“Fun was a main goal of the day,” said Brandon White, CEO of “If we can bring a smile to a kid’s face today, then it’s worth it. It will be a bright spot in their day.” Grant-a-Wish, a nationwide non-profit group, organizes three large parties for children and their families each year, as well as four additional events, such as Grant-a-Fish Day.

Grant-a-Fish Day was the brainchild of avid angler Rod Rice. He posted his idea on the Internet at He expected about 10 boats. More than 30 captains volunteered. “It just sort of snowballed,” said Rice, who then took his idea to Grant-a-Wish.

The first ever Grant-a-Fish Day was a hit with the kids, who were all smiles telling their fish stories. Capt. Deering and Stephen Blake had a hard time convincing Dakota to call it a day. He was ready to keep fishing, well into the afternoon.

“These are the days you never forget,” said Blake, senior.

—Amy Mulligan

Earth Journal:
Luna Tune

A full Flower Moon — pearl with a golden aura — hung high over the tall pines beside the country lane where I live. Midnight was warm and sullen, heavily scented with honeysuckle and laurel, pale and silent. The season was yet too new for the racketing of summer insects. Long ago such a night would have been filled with the melancholy calls of whippoorwills. A century and a half ago, they were so numerous on the mid-Atlantic coast that Thoreau was said to have named this final moon of spring the Whippoorwill Moon. Alas, they seek the solitude of deep woodland and seldom are heard where progress has drastically altered their habitat.

While mourning the demise of whippoorwills, I probably missed the debut of a Luna moth, the loveliest of all the great American silk moths. She craves the moon’s light, and so do I. Awakened by the same energy, led into the white night by an inexplicable force, we may have crossed paths in some shadowy place. For that is where I found her the morning after.

She may have been drawn to the sweet gum tree that towers above my yard. (This tree much disliked by many for its pesky seeds the size of golf balls affords a spectacular autumn coat of many colors unequaled by any other.) Whatever: There she lay at dawn in the damp grass, her sea-green gossamer wings imprinted with the mark of the moon and edged in mauve; the swallowtails scarcely marred. Her plump little body, white and furry and perfect, with golden feather-like antennae above onyx eyes; the legs intact and peacefully folded in death.

I held her gently in my hand and felt blessed to have found this ephemeral moonchild from the pages of a fairy tale.

A sister contributor to this publication wrote recently of me in a brief bio: “She waits for her stories, and when they come fluttering like a butterfly she scribbles them down before they disappear.” Perhaps. But too often I am victimized by daydreams or moon madness. I miss more butterflies than I catch. And so, the elusive Luna.

The pale moth shares now a shelf beside my desk with an entire collection of mummified mementos: untold tales of sand and sea and woodland, of aborted inspiration and opportunity lost.

—Audrey Y. Scharmen

Hoyer Hopes for Whip-ping New Congress

“Normally I don’t get quite this serious, but this is a serious election,” said U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer.

As the star of the show spoke, the din subsided from the hundreds of supporters gathered at Hoyer’s annual bull roast fundraiser at the Newton White Mansion in Mitchellville last weekend.

Hoyer, a Democratic congressman since 1981, proceeded to excoriate the Republican Party for failing the people. He mentioned the proposed Patients’ Bill of Rights which, as Hoyer tells it, House Republicans are holding hostage thanks to trickery.

“Do they think that the American people are fools?” Hoyer asked. “They’re not.”

Supporters slapping gnats and loading their plates with pit beef barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and coleslaw heard Hoyer’s view of the stakes in the November election.

“It’s not about whether Steny Hoyer is Majority Whip of this country,” he said.

But for Hoyer, this election cycle is indeed about whether he climbs the ladder to the No. 3 position in the House. For that to occur, three things must happen: He must win re-election, which is a good bet. The Democrats must win six seats in the House to take control, which is an even-odds proposition.

Last, Hoyer must win in balloting among House Democrats for the leadership job. Given his competition, that prospect is looking to be the toughest.

Hoyer is up against Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, who already has raised $1.1 million, money that she is using to curry favor by dishing it out to House Democrats running for re-election. Ironically, Hoyer’s toughest hurdle comes from a competitor with deep Maryland roots: Pelosi’s father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was mayor of Baltimore and served five terms in the House. Her brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, also was a Baltimore mayor.

There’s a third candidate, too: Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, an African American and veteran civil rights champion.

Hoyer recently scored a coup by winning the endorsement of Rep. John Dingell, of Michigan, the dean of House Democrats. But he still may have a stern challenge, which he suggested in an interview while his fundraiser was winding down.

“Nancy is formidable. She’s raised over $1 million. She can make the argument that leadership needs a woman, that leadership needs a Californian.”

But Hoyer, who is regarded as a moderate in his party, made the case that he might be better suited for the job than Pelosi, whose liberal politics reflects her San Francisco constituency.

“What I bring to the Whip’s race is the ability to reach out from right to left and bring people together,” he said, by which time the ice cream at his party had begun to melt.


Life Saving Changes on Shady Side’s ‘Dead Man’s Curve’

Dead Man’s Curve is no place to play
Dead Man’s Curve you’d best keep away
Dead Man’s Curve I can hear ’em say:
‘Won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve’
—Jan & Dean

A stretch of road depicted in the ’50s’ film Sunset Boulevard. Lyrics inspired by the near fatal ’60s’ car crash of Jan Berry, of Jan & Dean.

In 2000, Dead Man’s Curve is too real.

It is curvy Route 468 in Southern Anne Arundel County, the only artery leading to the small town of Shady Side. Deaths, marked by roadside crosses, mount year after year.

A billboard sign welcomes you to this small town. Farther down, a homemade sign proclaims “We will not tolerate drugs in our community.”

But no sign warns you of the danger ahead, up around the curve. This danger is a fact, supported by crosses and bodies.

Dead Man’s Curve claimed its first millennial victim on March 17. Daniel Rogers, 18, crashed his new Ford Mustang into a telephone pole, slid along a ditch and struck a tree. That’s all too ordinary an event along a road that claims eight small crosses at its edge.

That’s the worst of the story but hardly the whole story.

Accidents along Muddy Creek and Shady Side roads numbered 98 in 1998 and 56 by August 1, 1999. Capt. Thomas Suit, of the Anne Arundel County Police Department-Southern District, said the number prompted them to investigate.

“The majority of the accidents during these two years involved two or more vehicles, and were drivers running off the road and striking fixed objects. Most occurred between 1pm and 10pm, with the majority happening during afternoon rush hour,” Suit said.

Having assessed the problem, his department is joining with outraged citizens, community activists and politicians to correct it.

“We don’t necessarily think that traffic enforcement alone is going to reduce the number of accidents or the severity of the accidents down there,” Suit said. There has to be some kind of comprehensive approach to reduce the number of accidents.”

Mohan Grover and the residents of Shady Side are doing their part. They began with an April community meeting of citizens and elected officials.

“This is the first time that we have broken some ice with the state highway people, and I think it’s only a beginning,” said Grover, Shady Side’s unofficial mayor.

With 250 supporters, the State Highway Administration took notice.

“I don’t think that we’ve had a road full of this much problem come up recently, although we’re always looking for possible improvements to any road in the state system,” said Paul D. Armstrong, Maryland’s highway engineer.

Since the meeting, the highway department has laid three pairs of rumble strips in each lane approaching Dead Man’s Curve to warn drivers to slow down. Two trees were cut down.

State highway officials are looking into the relocation of utility poles along the road. Bell Atlantic owns 21, while Baltimore Gas & Electric has 17. At a price of $300,000, pole relocation is included in long-term plans for the area.

June 20, Grover met with Bell Atlantic officials to ask for the removal of the telephone pole on Dead Man’s Curve. He’s also seeking street lights from Deep Cove Road to Ira Lane.

Meanwhile, the Southern Maryland delegation is listening, too.

“We all recognize it’s a priority,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller told Bay Weekly.

“In my opinion, the only hold-up getting this road is Anne Arundel County, which had budgeted its road improvement money for Route 2,” said Miller.

At the April community meeting, Miller promised $10 million from the legislature for improving Route 468.

This road also holds the attention of the Deale/Shady Side Small Area Planning Committee. Safety is a paramount issue, according to their nearly completed plan. From Route 256 to East-West Shady Side Road, the plan calls for five-foot wide shoulders with turn and bypass lanes at all intersections. An emergency traffic bypass route is penciled in around or through Smith Building Supply.

But these are long-term goals. In the short term, are rumble strips and tree removal enough?

Suit says more must be done. As well as improving the roads, he says the drivers have got to improve.

“There will be increased traffic enforcement. It’s no secret,” the chief said.

He’s not kidding. A police officer sits on a corner, Dent Road and Route 468, usually occupied by a crab truck. A digital speed card, removed last Friday, sat beside a speed limit sign for three weeks showing drivers the rate at which they were moving. The speed card is set to appear on the opposite side of the road in a few days, said Grover.

“Since April 26, we’ve written 65 citations, 266 warnings, arrested three DWIs,” Suit said. “We will continue. If we can save one life by our presence, that is what counts.”

For Shady Side, Grover seconds the appeal: “If not only the residents of Shady Side but everyone who travels this road slow down a little bit and be respectful for the road, a lot of problems will be solved. It’s a country road; it’s a very unforgiving road. There is no room for error.”

I know I’ll never forget that horrible sight,
I guess I found out for myself that everyone was right …
Won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve.

—Mary Catherine Ball

$9,000 Sunk in Shipyard

Thanks to their historic curiosity, 660 pilgrims dipped into their pockets to tour eight homes and a church in Southern Anne Arundel County during the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage last month. An 18th century booming shipyard built by Stephen Steward but burned down during the Revolutionary War will have an on-site museum and education building.

“That’s our major project,” said Colonial Steward Shipyard Foundation treasurer George Dattore as he and current shipyard owner Dean Hall laid hands on a $9,000 check.

“We wanted the money to go to Steward Shipyard because, like so many of our old houses, it’s a local historic treasure,” explained Susanne Smith, co-chair of the Annual Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage’s unusual visit to Southern Anne Arundel. Smith and co-chair Pam Ticknor handed over the check.

Since 1993, some 8,000 artifacts have been excavated from the old shipyard now underwater at the head of the West River.

“We’ve found all sorts of materials,” says Dattore. “Parts of tools and ships themselves and a lot of personal items from the workers.”

With the help of Anne Arundel County Office of Archaeology, the Foundation used ground-penetrating radar to map out foundations of buildings, cellars and pieces of who knows what.

They’re not done yet.

“We’re going to do future excavations but in a very careful way,” assures Dattore.

In the meantime, the goal is to break ground on the new building that will house the Foundation’s public museum and offices and hold research, future investigation laboratories and educational facilities.

—Darcey Dodd

Way Downstream …

In Calvert County, it’s true that Senate President Mike Miller was an hour late for work one morning last week for being crabby. He was delayed rescuing about 150 horseshoe crabs that had become stranded on his beach at low tide …

In San Francisco, people who pick up the Examiner newspaper read a full-length wire story last week about the Chesapeake Bay and the return of submerged aquatic vegetation. The story reported the Chesapeake Bay Program’s finding of a seven percent increase in Bay grasses, an improvement that folks living along the San Francisco Bay would like to see …

In the Bahamas, the Navy is in hot water for allegedly killing whales with sonar tests. Seven deep-water beaker whales suffered ear hemorrhages and died after beaching themselves. The Navy’s 235-decibel testing is suspected. In Hawaii, the Green Party claims it has evidence that humpback whales left the waters off the Big Island after Navy tests. The Navy disputes allegations in both places, but has postponed testing off of New Jersey …

In California, conservationists figured out what to do with a beachfront motel that they complained about near the Pigeon Point Lighthouse on the San Mateo coast. They bought it for $2.3 million. Now the Peninsula Open Space Trust intends to tear it down, let the public back on the beach “and return the historic promontory to windswept emptiness” …

On Georges Bank, the legendary North Atlantic fishing ground that people will learn more about after the movie The Perfect Storm is released June 30, fishing boats will be allowed in once again to harvest scallops after the depleted fishery was closed, the Commerce Department announced last week …

Our Creature Feature comes from Washington, where U.S. House members were thinking big last week when the Judiciary subcommittee took testimony on a bill to prevent mistreatment of elephants in zoos and circuses. Bob Barker, the game show host and animal rights activist, showed up to endorse it.

But a zoo official from Indiana said that letting people ride elephants makes them more sensitive to their plight and raises money to save them.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly